There seems to be one cold front behind the other now coming through Southeast Texas. For those of us that prefer staying warm, the cold is only tolerable. For those of us that enjoy the lower temperatures, the cold fronts are welcome. I’ll say here that what is cold in Southeast Texas is not cold in the more northern areas. That is unless you add in the wind and humidity. That situation does close the cold gap.
There are a couple of things that are taking place now. One of them is normal; the other is slightly abnormal. The last couple of cold fronts and the full moon have driven more and more geese into our area. Not only geese, but more and more mallard ducks. Historically the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast are the wintering areas for most of the snow geese along the central and Mississippi flyways. That seems to continue to be the case with only a couple of differences. There is less rice being raised now in the U.S., especially in our area. What that means is a large part of the migration heads on down further south into Mexico. I do not go to Mexico anymore, but the photos from down there show clouds of waterfowl, including the snow geese. I assume that is not a bad thing, since we are experiencing overpopulation here with less forage for them. There are still plenty of the geese that Eskimos call “White Waveys.” The reason that many hunters don’t seem to see all of these geese is that they have found havens in the local National Wildlife Refuge no-hunt areas.
Another thing that began a couple decades ago with good intentions is the practice of short stopping the birds with mounds of corn and other grains. That seemed to achieve their goal, but it also altered the migration somewhat. It seems that now many of the geese and also ducks that once came to Southeast Texas are staying in the middle of the country. It takes some extremely cold weather, and it should last several days, in order to drive them further south.
Having said all of the above, there are still thousands of geese that are huntable, and there are a good number of hunters taking advantage of them. What seems to be the ticket to a good day in the field is good weather.
There is nothing scientific about this, but it has been my experience that windy, rainy days are best in the flooded rice fields. Many times when a cold front is approaching and the weather becomes slightly warmer, overcast, rainy and windy, that’s when rice field hunters do best. On the other hand, when the fronts pass through and the days become windy, cold and clear, those are marsh hunt days. The ducks tend to spend nights in the flooded rice and then settle in the marsh ponds. The geese will concentrate on the marsh ridges that were previously burned clean. The tender green grass does attract many thousands of geese. The geese will also concentrate in the planted green fields that the ranchers plant for their livestock. When that happens, the ranchers sometimes experience damage to their fields. No matter; these are great hunt areas if you have permission to hunt on them.
Fog is another weather condition that has a super effect on the waterfowl. Back several years ago when there were many rice fields and no burned marsh ridges with young green grass, fog was a goose hunter’s friend. There would be enough hunters scattered in rice fields or green fields hereabouts to keep the birds flying. In the fog, the geese were easily called to white decoys. Many of us could only afford white newspaper to use, but on foggy mornings they did the job.
At the present time with fewer feeding fields and the burned marsh ridges, when a fog rolls in the geese will not fly. If there is nothing to spook them from their rest areas, then they will remain there for the duration. Should they be forced to fly, then the hunting will still be super.